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Everything’s on the up – painkillers, booze, drugs and (er) dangerous air hoses

Our round-up of the health headlines on Thursday 25 August.

GPs and posthumous celebrities such as Heath Ledger are to blame for the fact that prescriptions for powerful painkillers such as morphine have soared over the last 20 years, The Independent reports.

It looks at slightly old figures published by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Abuse in June that showed a six-fold increase in the prescribing of opioid analgesics, by you guessed it, GPs, from 228 million items in 1991 to 1.38 billion items in 2009.

The Daily Telegraph says booze-related admissions to hospital have also rocketed, with nearly 1,000 more people admitted to hospital every day for alcohol-related diseases and general debauchery.

NHS figures show some parts of the country fare worse than others – come on down Liverpool and collect your ‘prize' of one of the highest rates of admission in the country, at 3,114 people admitted per 100,000.

Wanna know what else is soaring? The NHS diabetes drugs bill, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail reports. Drugs for diabetes now account for 7% of the overall budget and shot up by 41% in the last year, according to figures from the NHS Information Centre.

Also helpfully documenting society's decline – the Daily Telegraph reports that teenagers who use social networking Facebook (is the prefix really necessary anymore? Surely everyone in the country knows what Facebook is now?) are more likely to drink, smoke, and use cannabis, a study has found.

An electrician is quite understandably seeking damages from a former employer after an unsupervised pressurised air hose ‘shot up his shorts' and delivered a blast of air into his rectum forceful enough to blow a six-inch tear in the man's bowel.

Gareth Durrant says he ‘can't put into words' how painful it was and despite hours of emergency surgery still has to live with a colostomy bag, depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

The Daily Mail reports a leading academic, writing in the journal Nature, has called for the number of antibiotics prescribed to children to be ‘dramatically' cut.

A teaspoon of salt – presumably consumed in food, unless there's an old wives' tale about salt consumption I'm not aware of – ‘dulls the mind' and increases the risk of Alzheimer's, according to a Canadian study.

And lastly the Times (paywall), always so proud of pioneering British doctors, reports the good sports have transformed the lives of fourteen ‘bubble boys', God bless ‘em, who faced living with debilitating immune disorders.


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